E3 2012: We get a few updates on the latest SimCity and see how the developers are giving players a bit more direction than in the past.

There were a few quick updates from the SimCity presentation at this year’s E3. The focus was multiplayer, and we got a few more examples of how it will work. In brief, the multiplayer in SimCity is asynchronous–meaning players don’t have to be online at once to interact. This is because, based on what we saw, most of the interactions with other players are passive. These include exchanging resources for money, or having excess crime spill over into neighboring cities. When you sign out, your city will not advance in any way, but any resources you’re offering (or money you’re receiving) will persist even if you’re offline.

Players can also work together on collaborative projects. In the demo we saw, all three players were working together to complete a massive international airport. For one player, whose city focused on tourism, the new airport would bring in a fresh batch of travelers ready to pour extra cash into his city. Another player, whose city focused on production, would now be able to export more goods (and get more money). Such a massive project could be attempted solo, if you’re playing single-player, but would take much, much longer to complete. Playing with others has certain advantages.

As seen in the previous demo, the developers made a big deal of dressing up data. Mundane tasks, such as managing electricity or establishing light rail transport, are being dressed up with bright, engaging overlays. One example was using building graffiti to represent areas with high crime rates. High crime rates could lead to crazy arsonists or, as we saw, bank robbers. With a greater focus on player direction through missions (and their rewards), SimCity is looking to bring back the classic look with a modern touch. The game will be released on the PC in February of next year.

By Maxwell McGee, Editor